First things first, this wasn’t what I set out to write. It was supposed to be a piece on working mothers. The quintessential supermom who aces at work, manages kids like it’s a child’s play, cooks up the most healthy and tasty meals without a hair out of place. Yeah, the kind legends are made of; the kind you keep reading about but never see. So to avoid what all had already been written about, and to unleash upon the world my very own never-before-heard-of ‘gyan’ I shunned the internet and got to writing it. But then it struck me, where the hell are the working dads? Uh, well correction ‘Indian working dads’. Because apparently if you go by the internet, it’s the woman who does everything. She is the one who needs to know how to bring up a child, how to balance work- life, how to know what is nutritious for their child while the dads are off and away to some kind of a secret destination, child-proofed and work-life imbalance immune.
Time for some reality check:
#the legend of the Supermom
Remember that ad about a top shot woman executive, whose happiest part of the day is cooking for her husband and waiting up for him? Well well, the reality is when we come back home from work all we want to do is just crash, just like the men do. But do we get to do that? Oh no! Because we are supermoms. So we come back home, cook, make the children do the homework, serve the dinner, clean the kitchen, put the child to sleep etc. etc. etc. I did it for years, till I failed miserably. Either the dinner was burnt, or the home work remained unfinished, or the kitchen remained dirty, or I overslept (What else do you expect, I am human, I sleep!) so the kid missed the school bus and I missed the meeting. I realized much later that I needn’t do all this on my own. I am not alone in this, I have a partner, and he is called a partner for a reason.
All I had to do was relax and let the dad in. It’s easier now, because you divide and rule. The child is well taken care of, we both have more time to relax, talk and sleep.
So yes, the first step: Stop doing everything yourself. If you aren’t a single parent, there is no reason why you should be like one. Stop trying to be the supermom, because sorry to burst the bubble, but just like there isn’t any Superman, there isn’t any Superwoman either. It’s a myth, created by that brand to sell their product. Come on, you are smarter than that!
#the mere pass ma hain pedestal
Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother, I also like all that saying about how God couldn’t be everywhere and that’s why they created mothers and I love Deewar for that famous dialogue…but wait…that was the 70s! And the fact is we aren’t God, we are humans and hence we cannot be everywhere and you know what? It’s okay. Because there is a dad and he can be wherever you cannot. So stop believing that you are more competent at taking care of children than your partner. Stop berating yourself for working late (at times that is, if you need to do it every day, you either suck at the work that you do or you need to have a serious conversation with the Boss, and, guess what, it applies to dear daddies as well)
Stop berating yourself, if your child doesn’t get to eat the perfectly rounded rotis, scientific research proves that the nutritious benefits of a roti are not dependent on its shape. And yes research also proves that children who grow up eating ‘baap ke haath ka khana’ as opposed to ‘Ma ke haath ke khana’ turn out just as well.
So, step #2: stop giving the mother in you so much importance because there aren’t too many things that a mother can do and the father can’t. Oh no, there is no research to prove that, but there isn’t any research which proves mothers are better parents than fathers either.
#is that a bird? Is that a UFO? Is that a hands on Dad?
While gender equality is still a distant dream, but we sure are going in the right direction. At least in the urban set up, our partners respect our dreams and aspirations, uh well, most of them…okay okay…some of them at least? You know, the DINK (double-income-no-kids) millennial, they support each other in achieving their professional goals, they share chores, they believe that their partners have a life beyond them too, so why does it have to change when a kid enters the equation. Why is hands-on-dad still a stuff that legends are made of, largely?
As we egg women to return to work after maternity, as the society and organization make humongous efforts to make life easier for the working mother, why are the dads forgotten? Till the time we as a society refuse to acknowledge the role of a dad in bringing up the child, we aren’t helping the working mothers as much, are we?
Flexible working hours for working mothers are great, but what happens when the organization fails to acknowledge that male employees who are fathers too might need flexible hours, aren’t we overburdening the working mothers?
A six months maternity leave was a much required relief, but how does a one week paternity leave really help? Exactly what changes with a week?
And finally: Why are we so focused on the working mothers only? Isn’t it time we shift the focus to working parents?
Hasn’t the age of the hands on Dad arrived? I say it has!
– By Esha Chakraborty, for IWI*
About IWIite Esha Chakraborty
A Management Post Graduate, Esha Chakraborty, lives in New Delhi and works with a Leading BPO. A voracious reader of fiction, she reviews books on her blog, Bookhippo. Her short stories have been part of various Anthologies – Defiant Dreams & When they Spoke, Mock Stock &Quarrel (Readomania), Sankarak, Unmasked and The Master Stroke. In another world she is a foodie to the core with a passion for cooking.
*If you wish to write for IWI, head to our submissions page.